This Is How The White Population Is Actually Changing Based On New Census Data
Some news coverage of the latest 2020 census results may have led you to think the white population in the U.S. is shrinking or in decline. The actual story about the country's biggest racial group is more complicated than that. And it's largely the result of a major shift in how the U.S. census asks about people's racial identities. Since 2000, the forms for the national, once-a-decade head count have allowed participants to check off more than one box when answering the race question.
Tomás Jiménez, a sociologist at Stanford University who studies how immigration patterns and policy have influenced Mexican Americans' identities, says the racialized politics during former President Donald Trump's administration helped set the stage for a generational shift that was also driven by the growing prominence of second-generation Latinos whose parents immigrated to the United States.
"Older people who came up in the middle of the 20th century were taught that Hispanics were white and that there might be a benefit to claiming whiteness," Jiménez says. "The U.S.-born individuals who are now answering the census have been socialized in an era of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino national politics. They are checking the census boxes with a different sensibility."